Arts & Entertainment
Jam Lady's Got A Smile For Every Day
By Crystal A. Proxmire
Originally printed 9/19/2013 (Issue 2138 - Between The Lines News)
FERNDALE - What started out as a whimsical suggestion has turned into a daily exercise in both humility and pride for the woman most know as The Ferndale Jam Lady. Juniper Moore, 29, sells artisan jams at festivals and at The Rust Belt Market through her small business called Trans Jam Revolution. Most know her only by her online screen name and the moniker she uses at the market, Ferndale Jam Lady. This, Moore said, makes her easy to remember.
But something else about her is memorable too, especially to those she's connected with online. It's the fact that every day she smiles, and she takes a picture of it to share with the world.
It started one slow January Sunday while she was setting up her booth and chatting with a fellow vendor, Shannon Mahoney. She "randomly started talking about Facebook profile photos and, in her stream of consciousness, proclaimed that everyone's photo should be perpetually updated so as to be their smile from that day," Moore said. "Four days later, I decided she was right."
The first smiling self-portrait Moore took was on Jan. 17. "It started as a project in humility. I hated my smile. I thought I was terribly unphotogenic," she said. Her Day-One photo was just a private moment, "unkempt," is the way she described herself. "I have no idea what convinced me that was the day to start."
The second day she threw caution to the wind and posted her smiling picture online and got "a ridiculous quantity of positive feedback." The encouragement kept her going. "What can I say, I like compliments, so I was sold."
The smiles came easy for a while. As is common with new projects, excitement kept the first few weeks fun, and it helped that Moore's life was going well at that time. "That week was the start of a long vacation from Trans Jam Revolution. I had recently admitted I could and did love someone, and she had asked me to be her girlfriend two days prior. Two amazing girls had in the past six weeks decided to be my roommates. I was planning a vacation to Costa Rica to see my brother marry one of my favorite women.
"It seemed I had nothing but reasons to smile. I missed one day over the first two weeks. For someone who doesn't hold strongly to any single routine, I felt that was pretty impressive, especially considering I'd tried daily photo challenges several times and failed usually on the second day," Moore said.
February got harder, and she missed some days. On Day 56 she got more philosophical. "I finally started processing why I was still doing my Smiling Project. Every day I worked on it I sat myself down, forced all the depression in me aside, and thought of something - anything - to make me smile. At the time I wrote, 'I smile every day because I have to. Not because I'm doing this project, but because I wouldn't be here otherwise.'
"And it was fantastically true. I can slide into really deep depression when I forget all the good things in my life, and then I spiral into worse and worse thoughts and circumstances. Clearing the table on a daily basis quickly stopped the descent. The project doesn't make everything better, certainly, but it reminds me every day to remember that things aren't quite as bad as I try to believe."
At Day 91 she looked at the photo she had taken and, without reservation, she said to herself "that's a cute smile."
Embracing her smile on a daily basis has empowered her to enjoy the journey and be more bold. She started the smile project out as a self-described introvert. "Most days I didn't want the world to see me at all," she said.
The project also helps Moore document the changes that happen fairly quickly as she transitions away from the masculine body she was born with, blossoming into womanhood. Her body is changing, and she's currently in the process of making Juniper Moore her legal name. On the decision to transition, Moore said, "It's been the most challenging, rewarding, freeing, painful, joyous, and eye opening thing in my life."
Now at over 180 days, the smiling comes mostly easy. "After all this time I no longer fear the world seeing me exactly as I am that day," she said. "I finally look at myself and can, at times, see the good things others see. I'm not going to pretend the project is a cure-all, and I'm not going to pretend it's for everyone. But, for me, it has absolutely evened out a lot of divots in the road that would've otherwise put me right in the ditch."
In addition to her daily smiles, many more come naturally as Moore works to build her business. Her strawberry and basil blended jam, called Straw King is a sweet local favorite, and Jampocalypse Now is an interesting blend of mango and sriracha. While the flavors may seem a little eccentric, everything about Moore's Trans Jam Revolution fits in perfectly with the artsy and accepting "Ferndale normal" culture - yet another thing for Moore to smile about.Learn more about Trans Jam Revolution at https://www.facebook.com/TransJamRevolution. Learn more about The Rust Belt Market at http://www.rustbeltmarket.com/.
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